There’s much more to consider when choosing a drum set than how nifty it looks. There’s its construction and that brings to mind the shells. Drums are constructed of a variety of materials:
Type of Shell Material:
The shell is the main part of any drum. It’s what everybody see and where the sound starts after you hit the head. The construction of the shell has an effect on a drum’s sound. Let’s take a look at wood construction first:
Maple is an all-purpose material that tends to produce a warm tone. They may be slight, but on the warm end nonetheless.
If you seek to boost the high frequencies, then birch is a good choice. The midrange is slightly reduced while maintaining a good low-end punch.
Mahogany produces a smooth midrange, muted highs and rich, warm tones on the low end. Think vibrant and resonant when it comes to a mahogany shell.
When you want equal amount of high, mid, and low tones, go with walnut. Walnut gives you tones that are substantial, yet warm.
Need something a little softer? Enter oak. Oak shells produce softer highs with substantial midrange sound, warmer low tones. Oak shells are all-purpose with a fairly quick decay.
For punchy low tones yet pronounced high and midrange tones, beech is a good choice.
When you want to advance the highs, yet maintain a midrange punch, consider cherry wood. It’s balanced with a familiar low end tone. Cherry is sensitive yet bright.
Have you even heard of bubinga wood? Bubinga produces punchy, yet sensitive tones with even amount of high, midrange tones with a rich low end.
Like the wood itself, poplar gives you soft highs and mids while boosting low-end warmth. It gives you a smooth and even sound.
When the sound calls for warm highs and mid that are pronounced, go with ash. It also gives you an average low end. Overall, think throaty and warm.
The bottom line with wood shells is that there’re a lot of different types of wood out there. More than 3,300 species of timber in the wild. As such, the potential for new sounds is almost limitless. Each type of wood produces its own unique sound when molded into a cylinder and made into a drum shell. Consider how you play and the music to gravitate toward. Which type of wood would be your best choice? Buying a drum set depends upon much more than looks. Its construction is its foundation. Choose wisely.
Next up, we’ll look at Metal, Synthetics and Hybrids. Stay tuned.